Jiang Nan Chun at Four Seasons Hotel believes in the old Chinese saying of having a good life: 生在苏州, 活在杭州, 吃在广州 (Born in Suzhou, live in Hangzhou, Eat at Guangzhou). The renovated restaurant expanded to include more private rooms, and draws its inspiration from Jiang Nan (south of Yangtze River, including Suzhou and Hangzhou) with emerald floor tiles representing the river; handcrafted birds that at an angle look like they are perched on trees outside the restaurant; pieces of white Japanese sculptures symbolizing rice grains; and a feature wall of a rustling padi field.
While the decor mirrors the good life in Suzhou and Hangzhou, “Eat at Guangzhou” means Guangzhou has the best Chinese food. And the Cantonese cuisine, part of Guangzhou food, by Hong Kong Chef Alan Chan might prove the old Chinese saying true.
There are three must-orders here: the Peking duck, the soups, and the dim sum, the latter two are the hallmarks of Cantonese cuisine.
Turn on your sound to hear how crispy the duck is. The ZZZZZ sound of carving.
The Peking duck ($98, currently 25% off, which comes with caviar) takes 14 hours to prepare and is roasted with mesquite wood, which burns at a higher temperature, making the skin crisper and melting fats, which means the duck is less fat than usual. The wood also gives the duck a beautiful intense smokiness. You may eat with the savory or sweet sauce but the best way for me is to wrap the duck skin with caviar. The saltiness of the roe opens the tastebuds to the fats of the duck skin—umami max! Probably the best Peking duck in Singapore.
I have a very high standard for soups because my mom’s soups are excellent. Trust me when I say that the double-boiled soups here are amazing. The sea whelk, maka, dried scallops and pork ribs soup ($38) has the most out-of-the-world texture. It is a clear, light broth, and at the same time, the texture resembles those thick, dense Western soups. They boil the soup in two stages, 16 hours in total, adding different ingredients at each stage because the ingredients cook at different rate. The dried scallops are from the sea, so they give the soup a seafoody fragrance. Coupled with the Peruvian ginseng, it’s an ultimate nourishment from the mountain and the ocean.
The dim sum is a thing of beauty, showcasing either the skill or creativity of the chef. The traditional har gow ($2) has a magical skin both elastic and chewy and soft—simply amazing. Black pepper beef puff pastry ($3) is made from 17 layers of skin, painstaking stacked together, to give a superlatively flaky and light, but not crumbly, texture. The char siew sliders are made from kurobuta pork, very fat but not at all greasy, finished off in the wood-fired oven to give a smoky aroma, topped with homemade pickled chilli. This dish reminds me of Mexican cuisine (jalapeno) and is an extremely refreshing reinterpretation of char siew bao. Probably the best dim sum in Singapore.
However, not all fusion creations work here. For instance, I really didn’t like the Western-Chinese fusion desserts: avocado cream (above) and sour plum granite. They are too confusing for me, too many flavors going together at once. On the other hand, the creative dim-sumish dessert, crispy puff pastry with almond cream (below), is wonderful. They make the almond cream, freeze it, wrap it with puff pastry, and deep-fry it at a precise time, so that when you eat it, the almond cream is liquid. With a tinge of salted egg yolk, this dessert is both crispy and molten, sweet and salted, nutty and eggy. SO GOOD.
The food is so amazing that I don’t think I can eat Chinese food for a while because they will probably pale in comparison to Jiang Nan Chun. I expect Jiang Nan Chun to be on my “Best Food in Singapore 2016” list at the end of the year. Besides Tong Le Private Dining and Shisen Hanten, I can’t recall a Chinese restaurant that is as good as Jiang Nan Chun. If I throw a wedding, it will be at one of these 3 Chinese restaurants.
Wine pairing at $65++ (3 glasses)
Tea pairing at $7-$11 a pot
Set menu: $80/pax (vegetarian), $138/pax (non-)
Private rooms available with minimum spending of about $1000.
Jiang Nan Chun Singapore
190 Orchard Boulevard, Four Seasons Hotel, Singapore 248646
T: +65 6831 7220
11.30am-2pm, 6pm-10.30pm daily
Service: NA. (I had too little interaction with the wait staff to judge.)
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.